An error in the calculation of the baroclinic pressure gradient term in the Princeton Ocean Model (POM) was identified while modeling the M 2 tidal current near its critical latitude in the southern Weddell Sea. The error arises from the present calculation of density, which involves the subtraction of a background density profile from the density field calculated at each internal time step. The small displacement of sigma surface depths relative to the surface, as surface elevation changes, causes a slight error in the calculation of the vertical and horizontal gradients of potential density. The error is largest at the seabed over rapidly changing bathymetry such as the continental slope. The baroclinic pressure gradient error is typically much smaller than the Coriolis term in the momentum equations and, therefore, usually unimportant. Close to the critical latitude, however, near-resonance between the error and Coriolis terms can cause an energetic and spatially complex spurious inertial mode to develop. The error is significant when modeling tides near their critical latitudes, and will contribute to the error in the baroclinic pressure gradient in other simulations. Two methods were suggested for fixing this problem. The preferred method was tested by applying the new form of POM to the southern Weddell Sea. The new results are consistent with both current meter data and predictions of linear internal wave theory.
Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology – American Meteorological Society
Published: May 26, 2000